Memorial Day Weekend

I feel like every Memorial Day weekend is based on sales, BBQ-ing and long weekends for people to travel and do whatever.

Recently I attended a Veterans Memorial and the elected officials that attended made a very remarkable statement. The statement, which by the way I can not recall word for word, really hit home. It surrounded around the idea that Veterans in this nation have sort of been pushed to the way side. We name our streets and plants trees for Veterans and have Veterans Day and Memorial Day and all these special dates, times and events, but all I see on social media are “Memorial Day Sale” and “Veterans Day Sale” and barbeques on sale and travel times, etc.

I hope Veterans aren’t forgotten. I hope people actually have a memorable weekend and keep those who served in their thoughts and prayers and don’t succumb to the pressures of a capitalistic weekend brought to you by Macy’s, Sears and whoever else. It’s sad that days like these are surrounded by greed.

But I digress.

I’m going to end this short blog entry with a message to a person who continues to leave comments. Or tries to. JHope@Yahoo.com, I’m sure you’ll read this and it’ll give you some sort of satisfaction that I acknowledged you. I even tried to email you but it says your email is invalid. You left a comment stating “I’m running away like a little bitch.” Yet, this is coming from a person who not only has an email specifically for trolling purposes, but won’t allow any incoming email. That to me says “coward”. I understand the internet is a fun place to go to harass people under an anonymous persona. You don’t have to take any responsibilities for the things you say and you can just disappear whenever you want.

This whole recruiting thing is in the past and forgotten about. It happened nearly ten years ago and I’ve let it all go and moved on. You seem to be thoroughly stuck on it like you want to squash some vendetta you have about the whole thing. Or maybe I’m just giving you too much credit. Who knows. I can’t even recall the First Sergeants name whom you’re speaking about; nor do I care what he’s doing or how he retired. If he retired with full benefits, good for him. Anyone who puts their time in no matter how great or poor of a leader they were, deserves such. Comparatively to the leaders in past units I served it, the ones I had in recruiting were extremely poor. When you have a Company Commander state that he hates recruiting and doesn’t want to be there, take a guess what that does to the morale. Recruiting is a tough gig all the way around. That’s all I need to say about that.

I’ve taken responsibility for the things that happened. And again, I was not kicked out of the service. I had a JAG lawyer and I signed a voluntary resignation and left the service under honorable conditions. Now I own a home, I have a good job and that’s that. If you’d like to open the lines of communication instead of hiding behind an email, I’m fine with that. You can also send me your address and we can talk face to face. I’m not hiding or running from anything.

You say you’re a Veteran, well, lets see.

Edit: JHope left another comment claiming he was in the same recruiting company I was in and insists I was “kicked out” of the Army. Yet, JHope continues to keep his emails blocked and won’t identify who he really is. He’s just “calling me out” on all my “lies” during my time in service. My time in service isn’t defined by 2 years and 8 months in recruiting but yet defined by my DD214 that says “General Discharge under Honorable Conditions”. That’s not being kicked out.

One day JHope will stop being so afraid and post his address along with allowing for emails because I have a pretty good idea who this JHope person really is.

 

Please, Father Time. Take me with you.

 

It’s amazing how fast someone’s life can be flipped upside down so quickly. The more people I meet, the more I see others in the same situation as I once was.

When my ex-fiance told me she wasn’t happy in our relationship and hadn’t been happy for the past two months, It really took a lot to comprehend that. She was never mean or vindictive towards me and she always supported me in whatever I wanted to do. Especially with buying the house for us. We had been dating for roughly 14 months when I asked her to marry me and then a month later, we bought a house together. Things seemed to be working out.

Apart of me feels betrayed because I really wasn’t given a chance to make things better for her. The past two months, she was miserable. I had no idea. She gave no signs that she wasn’t happy. She just wasn’t happy.

She left in late May of 2010. I got out of the military September of that same year. I lived in that house, alone, beaten, and brought to my knees until I made the trek from southern Illinois to the great Pacific Northwest. I packed my car with as much of my shit as I could and I spent 7 days on the road. I also stopped in to see my sister in Utah and stayed with them for about five days.

I reminisce on the times I spent with my ex-fiance. All the good times we had. Going to Cardinal baseball games, watching the most boring NFL game in the Edward Jones dome when the Seahawks came to town and we spent the entire time making fun of the low attendance. We went out to dinner a lot. And we had a great time with her parents. Her parents loved me and I adored them. They were hard-working, blue-collar shmucks like the rest of us. But they had their shit together.

When she walked out the door, it all stopped. The promises, the love, the get-togethers, the calls, the text messages…it all ended. Just like that. And I wasn’t mentally ready for something like that. In the 14 months we were together, I had formed a bond with these people. And as a member of the Armed Forces, my family away from my family is just as important. I don’t get to be around my parents as much as I wanted to or needed to be. So I latched onto her parents. Her Dad reminded me so much like my own father. He was smart, articulate, crafty and indeed a man of his word.

Her mother on the other hand, was a tad senile, in denial about her aging body but she had a good heart. She always told me she loved me. And would help me any way she could. But she has an obligation to her own flesh and blood. She must support her daughter any way possible. It’s what mothers do, right?

I knew life would go on. I knew the sun would shine again in my pathetic existence. But at that time, I wanted to die. I loved her so much. I think the only other time I really felt that in love was with my very first girlfriend. We spent so much time together before I joined the Army in 2000. I thought I had a life long partner.

I felt the same way with my ex. Buying that house together was a pretty serious purchase and it meant a lot of things for us. We had a life together. Well, at least a start. The both of us were essentially living the American Dream.

I remembered when she walked out, though. I felt like a broken man. I stood in the kitchen and I just dropped to my knees on the cold kitchen tile floor. I didn’t even brace for impact. I took the hard floors punishment full-bore onto my knees. It nearly crippled me. But that’s not where the pain was the greatest. My heart felt like it was going to explode. And I wanted it to. I just knelt there, hunched over with my face in my hands, sobbing uncontrollably.

At first, I wasn’t sure why I was so upset. Was it because I just spent thousands of dollars of my savings on an engagement ring? Or the fact that I wouldn’t be able to make house payments to the bank without her income? Or the fact that I’d probably have to voluntarily give up my new motorcycle? Or the fact that I’d have to say good-bye to Oscar, our German Shepherd puppy? Or maybe it was because I was now alone, again. Without anyone. In a cold, lonely, unlivable home.

The next four months were pure hell. And my next stop was Lincoln Trails Behavior Health in Kentucky.

 

One Hot Missouri Morning

I mashed my lit cigarette into the ashtray beside my recliner. I hadn’t even taken my boots off from work. I just sat there staring at re-runs from The Office, the tv on mute. The phone rang.

“Hey, man. What’re you doing tonight?” the voice asked.

“Nothing.”

“It’s Friday, bro. Let’s hit the bars.”

“I don’t feel like it.” I said.

“Are you still in your uniform? Dude, it’s like 8 o’clock. Let’s go somewhere.” the voice insisted.

“I’m not feelin’ it tonight.” I replied.,

“Man, what the fuck is wrong with you?”

“Women. Guilt from combat. You know, shit. Life sucks.” I said as I lit another cigarette.

I hung the phone up and stared down into my lap as ash from my cigarette dropped off onto the arm of the recliner. I dozed off multiple times while sitting half-reclined. I could have easily set my entire apartment up in flames with one lit cigarette. I didn’t care. Half of me wanted that to happen.

The next morning I woke up with a kink in my neck, one boot on and my Army top half way buttoned up. I gathered my pathetic self out of my recliner and stumbled to the bathroom. I showered. I let the warm water smack me in the face like life had been doing to me for months. It felt nice, though. Like I snapped back into reality.

The Missouri sun had finally broke through the clouds and I shifted my San Diego Padres baseball cap so the bill faced the rear. I climbed onto my motorcycle and fired her up. She sounded good. It felt good to be on the saddle of that thing. I kicked up the kickstand, shifted into first and ripped out of the driveway and down the road. The wind felt nice on my face, the fresh air-filled my lungs and I felt like I could breathe again. The sun hit my back as I tore down the road doing about 80 mph. I wanted to go faster. I wanted a semi-truck to come out of nowhere and leave no time to react. I pulled down on the throttle topping out at 92 mph.

I pulled into the Cracker Barrel, which I might add, always has the best eggs. I was aloof, though. I didn’t make eye contact with the server even though I just experienced probably the best ride on my motorcycle in my life.

“What’s wrong, hun? You want some coffee or something?” She asked.

“Yeah, that’d be great. I’m going to go smoke real quick. I’ll be back.” I told her.

She always served me in the mornings. She was like my best friend away from all my other friends. She understood me, for some weird reason.

When I came back, a hot cup of coffee was waiting for me and soon after, my breakfast showed up. Scrambled eggs and cheese, two pieces of toast, sourdough, and a glass of water. I could smell the tar and nicotine on my fingers as I raised the fork to my mouth. That’s how much I smoked. It was disgusting but at the same time, I loved it. My wallet sure didn’t, though. But it was my release. Some people drink themselves to death. I was smoking myself to death.

I shoved a few bucks onto the table top for a tip and caught up with my server halfway towards the door.

“Leaving already, darlin’?” Her accent was think. Probably raised somewhere in Texas or even farther east.

“Yeah. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” It wasn’t a promised I’d really keep, but it was something I said to make her smile. If anything, I wanted other people to smile.

I fired up my bike and hit the road again. I had no real destination. I just wanted to ride.

All or Nothin’

 

Finding love is a tough game to play. I’m sure anyone that’s my age can relate to some of the problems I’ve had when dealing with relationships. This blog entry isn’t exactly relevant to anything except maybe what’s sort of going on in my life (and I probably won’t get too detail-ish with it on here) right now. I’ve been listening to a lot of new music and I recently started listening to Theory of a Deadman because they write songs that really correspond directly in line with my love life. I especially grew fond of this song because I can relate, like I said, to the point behind it all. These are the lyrics:

 

 

When I first saw you standing there
You know it was a little hard not to stare
So nervous when I drove you home
I know being apart is a little hard to bare.

Send some flowers to your work in hopes
That I’d have you in my arms again
We kissed that night before I left
Still now that’s something
I could never forget

You’ve got all that I need
Looking at all or nothing
Babe it’s you and I
With you I know that
I am good for something
So lets go give it a try
We got our backs against the ocean
It’s just us against the world
Looking at all or nothing
Babe it’s you and I
Looking at all or nothing
Babe it’s you and I

Lets take a chance go far away today
And never look back again
Since I said I loved you in Las Vegas
It’s never been the same since then

You’ve got all that I need
Looking at all or nothing
Babe it’s you and I

With you I know
I am good for something
So lets go give it a try
We got our backs against the ocean
It’s just us against the world
Looking at all or nothing
Babe it’s you and I
Looking at all or nothing
Babe it’s you and I

This is it nothing to hide
One more kiss never say goodbye
This is it babe your all mine
Looking at all or nothing
Babe it’s you and I
I know that I am good for something
So lets go give it a try
We got our backs against the ocean
It’s just us against the world
Looking at all or nothing
Babe it’s you and I
With you I know that
I am good for something
So lets go give it a try

We got our backs against the ocean
It’s just us against the world
Looking at all or nothing
Babe it’s you and I
Looking at all or nothing
Babe it’s you and I
Babe it’s you and I

And this is the music video:

 

My problem when it comes to relationships is I get easily attached. I really put my heart out on the line because I trust too easily and I also ignore red flags that I should be paying more attention to early on. But its human nature to want to be with someone. I think at this point in my life, I’m going to forget about the search for love. After my ex-fiance left me, I was single for two solid years. Now I’m in a conflicting…something…I’m not even sure what to call it. And I’ll just leave it at that.

I can still recall my very first girlfriend and the good times we had. The way she made me smile and laugh. She was pretty and nice. I always think about what would’ve came about if I hadn’t of joined the Army. Would I be married to her today? These are just some of the things I think about from time to time.

Anyway. People tell me that everyone has someone out there for them. With 3 trillion people on this planet, I’m sure there is some truth to that.

 

It’s a long and lonely road…when you know you’ll walk alone

 

Two days ago I was so distraught and upset I did the only thing a son would do in a situation like that; I sought out my Mother. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a momma’s boy but I certainly do hold a special place for her in my heart. Regardless if we get along or not…I still love my Mother unconditionally.

I fought and argued with my Mom about as much as any other kid. But whenever I needed her support, she seemed to always lend an ear even if she wanted to or not. When my ex-fiance left me two years ago with a mound of fucking debt, I called my mother. It felt more like I was interrupting her more than anything with my problems though. I didn’t feel that connection as I once did when I was younger. It felt like she was just brushing off the problem with words she thought I wanted to hear.

I called my mom a lot when I was in basic training. Mostly tearful conversations of me missing her and wanting to come home. And she’d always tell me to pull myself up by my boot straps and get my ass back into the game. Tough love, I suppose. I could feel the love through the phone. She genuinely cared about me and was worried about my making it through basic training in one piece. What mother wouldn’t worry..? It’s basic fucking training. A bunch of kids running around with guns.

One fateful evening while I was stationed in Germany in 2001, I called home and my mom kind of gave me attitude over something stupid. Like, she didn’t have time for her son. I called a lot, as I recall, from Germany to home always asking for shit. And I think one day she just got tired of her son asking for shit. She hung up on me and when I called back I gave her an earful. No mother wants to hear her only son call her a bad mother.

Since then our mother/son relationship has suffered. I got out of the service for a brief eight months in 2003 and I struggled with bills the entire time. I was always asking my parents for money and then when the war kicked off in the Middle East, I think I was the first single male in line at the Everett recruiting station. I can’t remember if my mom cried that time or not.

Now…I’m sort of in the same boat. Except I’m not struggling with bills. Or asking anyone for money. This time I’m asking for emotional support. Really, from anyone that wants to take that task on. I’m lonely, depressed, unsure of my future and most of all, alone. I really don’t have my own place I can call home except my little P.O box at the post office and my storage shed down town where I keep my motorcycle:

I suppose holding down two jobs kind of gives me something to do and a little cash to throw around…but it’s not the end all to my problems. I’d still be this miserable even if I had $80K a year. Well, maybe a little less miserable but you get my point.

Two days ago when I called my mother (I called twice) and even though she didn’t answer, she never called back. I suppose I wouldn’t call me back either because roughly 8 months ago her and I had another falling out sort of like the one back in 2001. It was brutal. Lots of cuss words, insults…you know. And when I think back on all of that, I never apologized for either yelling match. Neither did she, but that’s not the point. There’s no real closure for either of us on either issue and some of that is probably still causing a lot of the tension, anger, and hatred today. I don’t hate my mother by any means…but I can sense the lack of love.

When I arrived at my mother’s house I was in tears and I just wanted a hug from her. I needed that mother/son bond. I needed that physical touch to make me feel like I mattered in life and when she wasn’t at home, I was lost. If she had have been home I may have been able to go to work and function like a normal human being. And if she had have been home I was ready to ante up an apology and put to rest some of this tension between us:

Mom, I love you, first and foremost, and I know I haven’t been the best son or even come close to how I should have turned out. I don’t blame you for my short comings and I certainly don’t harbor any ill-feelings to you or Dad for how my life is shaping out. You and Dad created your own and have done a good job. I’m not hateful for what you worked your ass off for.

I just wanted to come over here and see your face one last time…and hug you. I wanted to apologize for my horrible words to you in 2001. It eats at me every day, maybe not as much as it eats at you, but it still does. And as far as I’m concerned, I was in the wrong eight months ago when we had that falling out too. I was upset over the email you sent me, I didn’t give you a fair shot at explaining yourself and over the years I’ve never given you a fair shot at explaining anything. You deserve better than that. Mom, I love you, always. Don’t forget that.

And then I’d have been on my way.

Two days ago, I wanted to die. But I’m still here on planet Earth and that says a lot about who’s in my life, and who’s here for me. I’ve become sort of a hermit in my days, aloof from society and detached from the real world and friends. I keep to myself more so now than I ever have. And I think that sort of brings out the worst in my depression. I’m a people person by nature. I love being in the social atmosphere and chumming around…but at the same time…I hate it.

You gotta have friends in this life to make it.

You gotta have people you can count on to survive.

And you gotta make sure those people who are supporting you know that you give a shit about them.

I love you.

 

The Battle Within

 

When Kessinger was killed it was sort of unexpected. I mean, we were a few short weeks from leaving that shit hole so I was thinking that missions wouldn’t be so balls to the walls. Rumor had it that those guys in that truck were up on a berm that they probably shouldn’t have been up on because the whole area was black. But we had some Colonel that was looking for his full bird promotion so he wanted to see if he could get a few more bad guys prior to us leaving Iraq. Well, when you go looking for trouble, trouble usually finds you first.

After five months of pulling countless shifts at the TAC, staring at some piece of shit radio, shootin’ the shit with the Battle Captains and sleeping on cots and eating Calzones, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pissing in a piss tube, my soldier and I finally got a call we were always hoping for. To recover a fucking vehicle in the combat zone. Expect, we were going out to recover the vehicle Kessinger was in. And when we got there, only the chassis was left. Apparently they had rolled over a pressure mine with about four 155mm rounds underneath. Kessinger’s body was thrown from the vehicle and from what other soldiers told me…one of the doors landed on his upper torso. And for that moment, he was still alive when they found him.

Leadership has a tough job. When shit happens like this, they have to be able to keep their men under control. Everyone has to keep their shit together. But it’s hard on everyone. I wasn’t there to actually see Kessinger (we arrived moments later) but all those images still haunt the fuck out of me to this day. It’s like not being there was worse than actually being there. And like I’ve said many times before in previous blog entries. Sitting in that goddamn radio room was a huge waste of time for me and my troops. I got to the point where I didn’t even fucking care what came over the net anymore.

I hold a lot of guilt for Kessinger’s death. Maybe not as much as the next guy, but it’s still there. My role in Iraq was so minuscule and minute that I wish I could go back and be apart of something bigger. I wish I was given the opportunity to do more. It’s like I can’t let go of that combat tour.

I wonder how long I’ll feel like this.

I wonder how long.

 

Patriot Guard Riders Club

 

 

Even though I haven’t officially been on any missions with the Patriot Guard Riders, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been accepted into the group. Here’s the PGR mission statement if you are unfamiliar with what they’re all about:

Mission Statement: The Patriot Guard Riders of Washington State are proud to be part of the National Patriot Guard Riders. This web site reflects the local Washington State efforts of the larger national organization for our heroes and their families.

The Patriot Guard Riders is a diverse amalgamation of riders from across the nation. We have one thing in common besides motorcycles. We have an unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security. If you share this respect, please join us.

We don’t care what you ride or if you ride, what your political views are, or whether you’re a hawk or a dove. It is not a requirement that you be a veteran. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your income is; you don’t even have to ride. The only prerequisite is Respect.

 

Our main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family.

Each mission we undertake has two basic objectives:

  • Show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities.
  • Shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.

We accomplish the latter through strictly legal and non-violent means.

To those of you who are currently serving and fighting for the freedoms of others, at home and abroad, please know that we are backing you.  We honor and support you with every mission we carry out, and we are praying for a safe return home for all.

The Washington State Patriot Guard Riders will participate in activities, which honor and show respect for all military members and families of the military members, past and present. This may include financial assistance, for charitable reasons, which these military and veteran military families may need. In addition, organizations, which assist these military and veteran military families, may be included as long as they are 501/c qualifying organizations.

I encourage all military veterans to join their local PGR chapter in their area. It’s a great way to meet other military members and connect with the community. Hopefully I’ll be able to take part in some missions before the riding season comes to an end and I’ll make sure to blog about my experience with them. Stay tuned for more blog entries concerning my adventures with the Patriot Guard Riders.